Golden Rules of Effective Menteeship

There are Golden Rules for being a good mentee.

Here are four key recommendations for best practice.

1. Select the right mentor(s)

  • finding suitable mentors is a process of judgement and learning, there needs to be congruence between your goals and the skills and knowledge of the mentor
  • Find someone with content expertise, or influence in a field, who has a wide network of contacts
  • Someone in the top of their field isn't necessarily a good mentor, personal attributes (patience) and values (altruism) are fundamental to a good relationship. You should like, respect and trust your mentor.

2. Be respectful of your mentor's time and manage it wisely

  • Be proactive in scheduling appointments, plan a regular slot
  • Plan for meetings by setting out agendas and prioritising discussion points
  • Include a timeline to schedule each item so the both of you focus on what is important
  • Propose solutions to help your mentor decide which answer may be best ("managing up")
  • request actions before meetings to help your mentor prepare "Please review X so we can discuss at our meeting"

3. Communicate efficiently and effectively

  • begin with honest conversations regarding your goals and aspirations
  • include a written plan of short and long term goals, which helps share a vision of success with your mentor
  • Clarify roles and expectations on both sides to minimise conflict and disappointment.
  • establish regular cadence of communication that includes goals and progress towards them, for example: summary of current project status, including progress and problems, discussion of new projects, etc.
  • pay attention to your "talking-to-listening ratio", it should be less than one. You should be listening more than you are talking.
  • Send focused messages with brief background that can be answered with "yes" or "no" are ideal

4. Be engaged, energising, and collaborative

  • avoid emotionally draining behaviours, such as complaining, pessimism, and "snarking" about others.
  • Show that you are mature and genuinely open to learning
  • be an energy donor, not an energy recipient
  • help drive projects forward, be proactive, and accept all comments as important learning opportunities
  • Be a "closer" : someone who follows through on tasks in timely fashion and at a high standard.
  • Be generous and honest in giving others credit, you're working with not just your mentor, but other colleagues and the wider scientific community.